The Domino’s Effect In Pest Control

Just a question and I’m not really sure if this is a big deal or will resonate with anybody or as usual this is just a figment of my vivid imagination.

Have you seen the TV commercials of the famous Dominos Pizza company where they are attempting to reinvent themselves, reconnect with their customers and actually get back to the good quality food all at the same time? Now to me, this is very effective and if I were upset with them in the first place (which I never was-I don’t eat pizza much) I would be inclined to give them another try. In fact, I may just make a special trip by a store just to check it out to see what all the hub bub is about-I guess it’s working already. So this of course got me to think about pest control and specifically pest control business.

Pest Control Is Unique

Pest control service is to me, unique in that it is fraught with problems and customers are on the brink of being unsatisfied if they aren’t already. Please read my story Pest Control Is A Complaint Business to see what I mean. A good company realizes this, consciously makes plans, decisions and has policies in place to be ready for the eventual unhappiness BEFORE it results in a cancelation or worse yet, a bad referral. Now if your entire company is in a free fall like the Dominos Pizza people found themselves in and the ship is going down perhaps you need more than this article to help you out. If however you’re like me or maybe even somewhat agree with my point of view this may be just the thoughts that’ll plug up some holes in your boat.

Do You Have A Plan For Disgruntled Customers?

Oh of course we as an industry have our standard ‘free complaint service’ which I simply detest but how does this really help and what else can we possibly do? Do we use the time to re-educate a customer who already wasn’t listening? Do we try something different after we’ve already crawled the attic 3 times, bought a special bait that didn’t work, re-sprayed, dusted, and exhausted everything we could possibly think of? More importantly what do we say to the customer as our reputation slips each time we’re called back out? While 95% of the time this scenario is not even on the radar, if you’ve been in the industry any length of time and as your route or company grows YOU WILL find the other 5% and they can and will drain you of a lot of time and energy unless you’re prepared.

My Plan

Now as hypocritical as it sounds, I too offer the free complaint service but I don’t hesitate to tack on a charge for something like a power spray, bait stations or perhaps a new product I don’t usually stock. Nothing crazy mind you but it’s amazing how quickly a HUGE problem is suddenly something they can live with or a client who wouldn’t give two hoots about your sanitation or proofing spiel is now all ears. Secondly and this is important- I evaluate if indeed I did everything I should have in my service. The next sentence is only visible if you hit the ‘caps lock button–it’s a secret button no one knows about, shhhh.’

Look, just between you & me, no one else can see this-I get in a hurry too; running behind, bad day, calls waiting, office bugging the crap out of me etc. etc. So there are times when I do a visit and bait 3/4’s of what I should or put off doing the attic or just whatever–it happens. Ok, hit the caps lock button again.

I know when somethings missing & I can see it when I go out on a call that one of my techs have done or someone from another company. So, when I see this, regardless of my time situation I dive in and get that bugger done from scratch as hard and as thorough as effective and fast as I can. In other words I tear the place apart like a crime scene investigator would until I get to the nub and get the client back on the road to recovery, NO EXCUSES. If you take the time, ask enough questions, think critically I believe you can solve just about every problem. In my career I have failed and in evaluating the times I have I can almost always point to a time early in the problem where I just didn’t do enough and of those times it’s usually something so simple. There is so much more I could write here but I’d love to hear your thoughts, I’ll finish with this.

I find that my most troublesome accounts are the ones where somewhere along the line something wasn’t done or anticipated. It is always so difficult to play catch up and even more difficult to come out a winner even if you get the result you wanted. The customer has either lost some confidence in you, your staff or they are now convinced that some of your herculean efforts (ie; dusting the attic or power spraying the perimeter) is something that should be done every time. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, what’s your plan, do you have one or is this something you even think about?

To me it’s a no brainer and at this point in my career I never let it go & just walk on by. You should have a system in place, something you fall back on as well because it’s hard to stop domino’s, once they start falling.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Derek

    Great Article. I would just like to Add to work all your different pest agreements to only cover those pests contracted only and be up front about any additional charges that may come down the road. They need to sign these agreements to be reminded a difficult emergency situation on their part most likely will cost them extra. A poorly worded general agreement in my experience will make it difficult to convince the customer a different problem that comes up isn’t covered.

  • Mel

    You’re speaking about those who actually have a legit problem and they should be taken care of. Using your food analogy, I have customers who wants a steak and lobster service for the price of a happy meal:) It doesnt matter how much you try to please them, or educate them for example, you can not stop every flying insect from traversing their property.

    Derek brought up a good point regarding clarification of the service agreements. I spend a lot of time (more than I should) ensuring my potential customer knows what they are signing up for. They always “get it”. However, when someone who’s out to get any and every sale signs someone up without accountablility a lot of time is wasted saving face for the company. Sometimes I walk from a sale if the expectations are too high rather than taking the chance of someone signing up for a year and face weekly free reservices.

  • I’m impressed with your sense of pride and wisdom–Hard to balance those two with out getting one out of whack.

    I try very hard to ‘educate’ clients and some are very sharp and ‘Get it’ within 2 sentences…most are just letting the words breeze thru their brains and all they want is the lobster you describe at the cheeseburger price. It does my heart good though to know I’m not the only one out there with this dilemma & if you are fighting the good fight–I will too.

  • Thanks Derek,

    I agree with Mel that your advice is GOLDEN… I admit I usually only have folks sign termite contracts but maybe it’s time to go one further. I have a brochure of ‘expectations 1/2 done’ in my documents. It has a place to put a contract and to initial they’ve read what we DO & Don’t Do………I think it’s time to open that back up and finish it.

    Great insight–Thank you